The lottery.  One and a half billion dollars.  Imagine…

Imagining, like millions of others this weekend, how one might spend a billion dollars… I learned something helpful about myself and my life goals.

Recently I met a psychic.  She told me my mother would win the lottery.  I told my mother to play… she won $50.  She was thrilled. I was thrilled for her.

Gripped by Powerball fever, everybody wants a chance at the big money.  Everybody wants the Powerball mega bucks payout.  I took notice of the rolling stock market jackpot indicator.  $700,000,000.  I baulked at the tax one would have to pay.  You wouldn’t see any more than $300,000,000 if you opted for the one time pay out.  Sad face.

Frankly, a crisp $20 would have done the trick. 

Everybody wants the jackpot.  Rich people were doing it, poor people do it every week.  With so much at stake, everyone everywhere in the USA contributed to the largest purse in lottery history.

I surreptitiously bought five tickets at Hannaford supermarket in Kingston.  I told the woman who sold them I’d never bought a lottery ticket before.  A ghost of disbelief flickered across her white  face.

“A psychic told me to buy it.” I lied.

She said, “I’ve sold so many tickets to ‘first timers’ this week.”

“Thank you, thank you for that.” I replied.

I felt better about buying a lottery ticket.  I felt relieved.  Affluent people don’t buy lottery tickets.  Poor, uneducated people buy lottery tickets.  It was essential she understood I would never usually gamble in the ghetto.

As I lay in bed that night, my ticket folded neatly in my wallet, I imagined a life with $500, 000, 000 in the bank.  What would I do?  

We are all limited by our imaginations.

I’ve seen some of my friends earn extraordinary amounts of money. The last time I saw JJ he told me since becoming very rich, very successful… rather than having a huge life his life had… shrunk.  The same faces, the same path around the world.  Holding onto his position at the top of the pile. Fame and fortune can hamper the inquisitive.

My current best friend is very rich.  Very, very rich.  He lives well but has worked the same job the past twenty years.  His money and his job are unconnected. He has a nice life.  I found myself wanting to ape him.  A lovely apartment in the city, a house in the country, a dependable car.  He gives money to charity, he is generous with his friends.

But… with his kind of cash, where would I want to live?  To my surprise, I knew immediately that I didn’t want to live in the USA.  I started my search for a dream home in Paris.  I found a sweet apartment in the 7th for 1.5 million euros.  I looked for a country house in the french countryside and quickly settled for something that cost 500,000 euros.  

After I’d made myself and my family comfortable… which charity might I patronize?  I decided to set up a foundation for poor British kids who can’t get into drama school.  I gave money to a bat charity and another that supports country skills and farming practices.  I gave money to beautify Whitstable, my home town.  I concluded that with the bulk of the money I wanted to help the motivated, stuck in poverty or prejudice, achieve their goals… to break through their own glass ceiling and… fly.

As I lay there I realized I didn’t need $1.5 billion to achieve my rather humble aims.  Everything I wanted to achieve was within reach.  I could already buy a place in Paris.  I could determine to raise money for all of the charities I wanted to help.  Maybe winning the lottery, for some one like me would be a curse?   Untold millions would merely inflame the disease of more that seems to blight me… blight us all?

Today I walked home with half a baguette in my pocket.  This simple action gave me so much pleasure.

The first week yielded no winner.  I wanted to see this through.  The Powerball lottery and I have a relationship now.  I could have gone elsewhere to have a second go. Instead, I went back to the reassuring woman in the supermarket.

“Didn’t win?” She smiled.

I bought ten more.

I didn’t win that week either but three people did.  The jackpot divided into three paltry $300,000,000 increments.  I found myself wondering, what would THAT buy you in the modern world?